Chapter 11 lulled us for a while into believing that these people in Jambudvipa could exist in peace, even if only on the surface, but the title of this chapter should give us all a reminder that things are not resolved yet, that there is an Avici Hell that must be passed through. Or perhaps, that hell exists in the heart. 😉
Chapter 12.1 — This Avici Hell (1)
For roughly one hour, she and Xiao Zhuang sat on the steps at the corner of the staircase, casually talking. Of the people here, only this boy, one year younger than her, could be considered her peer in age, and only this boy, as well, would chat with her.
Xiao Zhuang told her, he had actually previously never seen Cheng Muyun.
That day on the train had been his first time seeing this former leader of the ops team. At the time, it had been Fu Ming, hidden away in the shadows, who had directed Xiao Zhuang to pose as an ordinary traveller and get close to Wen Han to protect her.
“Did you know? When I walked over, he took one glance at me. And it was in that one glance that I knew he viewed me as a brother.”
Xiao Zhuang spoke with extremely stirred emotions.
Her arm was being used as a pillow under her head as she tilted her head to look at Xiao Zhuang.
Pausing, Xiao Zhuang leaned in close and whisperingly said to her, “I’ll tell you, my name is Zhuang Yan.”
Zhuang Yan? That was his real name?<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Prior to meeting Cheng Muyun, she had not known how great was the importance of someone’s name and what it represented. But now, she understood clearly. Your name represents your past, your friends, your life, as well as places of refuge you once had. All of these are extremely important. Even Cheng Muyun had never told her Xiao Zhuang’s real name.
Wen Han did not know how to express the alarm she felt when she heard it.
Rubbing a hand over her heart, she said, “You shouldn’t have told me. I nearly died of fright when I heard it.”
Zhuang Yan chuckled. “You know, this rule that the monk set really sucks. We, as brothers who go through thick and thin and life and death together, in the end don’t even get to know each other’s names. It’s no fun at all. Remember my name. Who knows? Maybe one day you may see my tombstone in some place.”
Suddenly, successive sounds of metal falling to the floor echoed out from the room behind them.
The sounds were very clear and carried that quality that indicated objects had flown out and slammed into something.
They both stopped simultaneously and turned their heads.
The bangles. That string of inexpensive bangles. Before the henna tattoo application, she had taken them off and put them under the pillow. That was such a concealed place. How could they have been found and then thrown? … She immediately stood. Something must have happened.
“You’re going in?” Zhuang Yan grabbed her sleeve. “Fu Ming said before, we cannot do anything that the monk does not allow.” Such as right now, when the door was closed.
In other words, no one was allowed to go in.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Zhuang Yan’s Russian was not very good. He had told Wen Han earlier that he was not from Russia. These recent years, Fu Ming had actually not been in Russia. Zhuang Yan was actually Vietnamese, and therefore, amongst this group, he was the only one whose understanding of Russian was not very good.
She could hear it. Zhou Zhou was crying Cheng Muyun’s name in Russian, was crying “Big Brother.”
“Do not come in. Absolutely do not come in. You do what I say, got it?” The dialogue inside was already broaching upon Zhou Zhou’s identity. She did not want Zhuang Yan to get involved in this.
In her subconscious, she wanted Zhuang Yan to be able to successfully leave this manor estate.
She hoped that he was not the mole, hoped that he would be safe.
For the sole reason that he had told her in that dirty, noisy railway station, “Don’t be scared. We’re all here.”
Without waiting for Zhuang Yan’s answer, she rushed up to the outside of the door. Gasping lightly, she closed her eyes and mustered up courage for herself. Yes, she was still afraid of that man… afraid of him when he sometimes threw aside all those things that bound him and his beliefs and faith and totally transformed into a rage-filled man of Moscow.
Wen Han pushed open the door.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy of the translation
In the pitch-blackness, she closed it again behind her.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
An air that caused one’s flesh to creep flowed through the entire room.
Her mind was blank. She saw Cheng Muyun pinning Zhou Zhou to the bed with one knee and squeezing Zhou Zhou’s neck with one hand. Zhou Zhou’s two hands were grasping his wrist tightly, like a fish that had already lost its water and was on a chopping block, painfully and in vain twisting its body…
Could not breathe. All hope and feelings of living were dependent on the throat—
Wen Han could even still recall that type of despair.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Those bangles just now must have been thrown by Zhou Zhou out of desperation, as a cry for help.
“Cheng Muyun…” She stepped toward him.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
In the darkness, Cheng Muyun’s eyes were devoid of emotion as they turned to look in her direction.
“Dearest.” He spoke in a low voice to her in Russian, like someone who had been witnessed in the act of robbery in the back alley behind a bar in Moscow. In a most indifferent manner, he told her, “You know I do not like people watching my personal matters from the sidelines, especially my family matters.” It had been a long, long time since he had spoken with a serious manner in Russian to Wen Han. And now, this icy-cold, indolent tone was a warning. It was just like back then in the utility room of the Western restaurant. When Wen Han had pleaded for Wang Wenhao, his behaviour had been the same.
The instant Cheng Muyun opened his mouth, she knew he was submerged in the darkest of emotions.
He was warning her, telling her that the further she got away from him, the better.
From that temple in Nepal, to when they were on the train, to the shores of the Ganges River, he had been like a monk who had climbed out from the abyss, reserved, humble… But now, what had pushed him back into hell again?
Behind her back, Wen Han’s one hand unconsciously squeezed her other palm viciously. “Cheng Muyun… Calm down for a bit. I’m scared you’ll regret this. Look. See who she is.”
He gave an extremely quiet chuckle. “Do you think I have already fully lost my senses and forgotten who she is?”
“No, what I mean is…”<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
He cut Wen Han off. “This beautiful woman grew up with me holding her in my arms. Dearest, come. I will outright and openly introduce you to her. This is my youngest little sister [cousin-sister]. Her name is Cheng Jiayi. She told all of you her name is Zhou Zhou merely out of remembrance for that poor boyfriend of hers who died an early death.” As he spoke this, he did not show any hints of letting up on that action that would send Cheng Jiayi to accompany Zhou Ke into death.
Cheng Jiayi feebly thrashed her legs. Her hands were slowly beginning to go limp.
The hope of living drifted further and further away from her.
“Cheng Muyun!” Wen Han took two strides forward. “Let go of her first. Even if she did something wrong, you cannot kill her with your own hands.”
She swore, even if this Cheng Jiayi was the mole…<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
If Cheng Muyun did the deed with his own hands this time, for the rest of his life, he would never in his heart be able to release himself from it. That was his little sister; she was different from the others. No! Actually, it should be said, Cheng Muyun could not personally do it to any one of the people who were here. This man could endure anything—anything but this.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
He was Hell.<>Please support the original translation at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
But not to his own brothers.
There was a hell in his heart. And ten years ago, he had already become locked inside of it.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Wen Han took another step forward and ended up kicking one of those bangles that were strung together, which in turn collided with the others.
With these faint sounds, her heart leapt madly.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
……<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
It was not certain whether her words had persuaded Cheng Muyun, or he had not truly intended on bringing death with his hand. In that second that he relaxed his grip, Cheng Jiayi, using the utmost strength that she could muster, escaped from beneath him and tumbled wretchedly to the floor. Cheng Jiayi panted with all her might, as if the last thread of her strength had been used to break free, and crying and coughing, she lay facedown on the floor. Wen Han moved to help her back up, but she shoved Wen Han away.
Stumbling, Cheng Jiayi threw open the door and fled.
The shadowy outline of Cheng Muyun’s figure came off the bed and walked over.
Fearing that he would give pursuit, Wen Han backed up several steps and leaned her back against the door, where she remained unmoving.
And there she stayed, until he drew so close he could not get any closer, so near that his leg was against her leg, and his body was pressed against her body. He lowered his head. Not a trace of light was in his eyes, as if they were whirlpools that could devour her at any moment.
She was terrified, terrified that the instant he opened his mouth, what came forth would be that language that she was most familiar with, the one she had heard since she was a child. Was it not rather absurd? It was merely a different language, but that was enough to make him transform into an entirely different person. Perhaps because the most legitimate Chinese that he learned had been from an old monk, only when he showed his ethnic Chinese side were people able to feel that he was a person whose reason and rationality were within the boundaries of normal.
She was even getting a certain feeling.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
If he still did not speak, he would end up having her take Cheng Jiayi’s place to die right here—
“She thinks Zhou Ke betrayed me before he died.” Cheng Muyun looked down at her, his finger brushing away her already sweat-dampened stray hairs from her forehead. “This is the type of malicious speculation that I most do not want to hear, especially coming from her mouth.”
Wen Han’s eyes flickered. “Your younger sister is telling you that all four of them are innocent?”
“She implored to me to not continue investigating. She said, everything should have ended on the day of Zhou Ke’s death. No more people should die.”
This statement sounded very familiar.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Fu Yiming had also said, if Cheng Muyun insisted on continuing to root out a mole, he undoubtedly would cause the deaths of everyone.
Wen Han touched his face. The tip of his ear was searing hot, as if fire burned it. She did not know whether Cheng Muyun was beginning to waver, or if he did not believe his cousin-sister’s words at all.
This was too hard.<>This is an UNAUTHORIZED copy, taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
This current situation was a Rashomon scenario.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Each of the involved parties was holding to his or her own views, and each provided statements according to what was most advantageous to himself or herself, weaving lies with them. Where did the final truth lie?
Was it that Zhou Ke’s death had been wrongful, and there was a mole amongst these four people?
Or was it, Zhou Ke was the mole, and these four had been wrongly accused?<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Amid the darkness, Cheng Muyun’s lips pressed down on hers.
This was the first time he closed his eyes when kissing her. In that same moment that he relinquished all light, he also felt Wen Han’s hands sliding up to his shoulders… Before, she had always wanted to avoid his gaze, but now, she wanted to see his eyes. That was the only way for her to know what he was thinking.
Outside the window, there were the sounds of music, as well as singing and dancing.
The celebration had already begun in the manor for the monastic induction ceremony that would be occurring three days from now. The esteemed guests came from all states and cities of India. Every person from every place who had once had any business dealings, or whose life had somehow intersected with this manor lord, had come. In this nation, abandoning one’s earthly identity and wholly dedicating one’s life to Buddha were things that were worthy of celebration.
But inside this room, he bit down on her tongue and broke skin.
On that pathway of pitch-blackness, he wanted to use the bloody sweetness from the tip of her tongue to help him find some of his rationality. Or perhaps, it was some resoluteness, the resoluteness to continue carrying out what he was to do—to find that person, to find the betrayer.
Wen Han felt as if something was wedged in her throat. “Cheng Muyun…”
Her heart in her chest was trying with such difficulty to beat.
She was feeling more and more uncomfortable. Finally, she could clearly hear the sound of herself collapsing to the floor and her body slamming into those inexpensive bangles. She clutched tightly at his sleeve. Cheng Muyun, there’s something not right with my whole body. I feel really unwell.
But though her mouth opened, she could not make a word come from it. He was so near…
Wave after wave of blackness rolled over her until she was wholly submerged.
Wen Han did not know how long she slept. When she awoke again, she was still only hovering on the edge of consciousness.
The first thing she saw in her vision was the oxygen mask on her own face. Her limbs were completely numb, and she had no control over them.
With great effort, she forced her eyelids to lift. She saw many doctors dressed in white coats beside her bed, speaking in a language she did not understand.
It was different here from in that manor. The servants of the manor had received some training, so even if their pronunciations were poor, they would still speak in English to them, the guests of the manor. Now, however, the people surrounding her were all speaking the local language, the native tongue of this state.
So noisy. She saw Fu Yiming gripping Cheng Muyun’s collar, shouting something. Cheng Jiayi was crying. Chen Yuan was smoking by the window. There was one person missing… Zhuang Yan? Where was that youth?
All sounds were fuzzy. She could not hear them clearly.<>Please read this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Before Wen Han could discern more, she once again lost consciousness.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
 See footnote  in chapter 5.3. 无间地狱 “Avici Hell” in Buddhist beliefs is “the perpetual hell.”
 A situation in which different individuals give contradictory interpretations of the same scenario.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
1 of 1 Prologue
33 of 50 Chapter segments
0 of 1 Epilogue